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Measles Vaccine Coverage Gap Sparks Fears of Resurgence in Children

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(Bloomberg): Measles could strike again in children after vaccination coverage fell to record levels during the pandemic, according to global and U.S. health officials.

According to a joint report by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, nearly 40 million children worldwide did not receive the measles vaccine. This increases the risk of highly contagious respiratory viruses in the United States and other countries eradicated by vaccination campaigns.

Declining disease surveillance and disrupted vaccination campaigns during the pandemic have made measles an “imminent threat” worldwide, according to the report. According to CDC data, her U.S. vaccination coverage for children under the age of 2 is currently hovering at 90.4%, well below her 95% level needed to keep the disease at bay.

“The record number of unvaccinated, measles-prone children reflects the severe damage to immunization systems during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said CDC Director Rochelle Wallenski. is showing.

Measles can be prevented with a two-dose vaccine that is routinely included in childhood immunizations in the United States, which also protects against mumps and rubella. The campaign led to a measles-free state in the United States in 2000, but imported cases from parts of the world where the virus is still circulating have caused sporadic outbreaks. , ripped apart New York City’s unvaccinated communities, ultimately infecting 649 people.

Another study published in July in the journal Vaccine found that more than 13 percent of U.S. children are now susceptible to measles due to reduced vaccination coverage during the pandemic, and the disease is already closing the coverage gap. seems to slip through. An ongoing outbreak in Columbus, Ohio, infected 20 of her unvaccinated children. Nearly half of them were hospitalized, according to local health data. The highly contagious virus, which is spread through coughs and sneezes, has already passed 11 day care facilities in the Columbus area.

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Nearly two-thirds of Ohio cases are in children aged 1 to 2 years, all of whom have not been vaccinated against measles, mumps or rubella. According to the CDC, her MMR vaccination coverage among Ohio kindergarteners has dropped from 92.4% for her in the 2020 school year to 89.6% for him the following year from 2019.

“What’s happening in Ohio may be a harbinger of what’s to come,” Robert Bednarczyk, a professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, who helped write the paper on vaccines, said in an interview. “Considering that Covid will reduce primary care visits, will this start to raise questions about other routine immunizations?”

A cluster of measles-prone children could spark a resurgence of infections within the United States. Symptoms usually begin with fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. Small white spots begin to appear in the mouth, followed by a red blotchy rash. Severe cases can cause pneumonia.

“A highly contagious disease like measles acts like a canary in a coal mine, identifying weaknesses in public health infrastructure,” Bednarczyk and his colleagues said in a July paper. “As childhood vaccination coverage declines, measles is often the first re-emerging pathogen.”

©2022 Bloomberg LP

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